Killjoys Season One: The Post-Mortem

Illustration for article titled Killjoys Season One: The Post-Mortem

Okay, so Season One of Crinjoys, er, Killjoys is safely behind us. And the two words that best describe it are “wasted potential”. There was something terrifyingly wrong with every goddamned episode of this show, and only the two last episodes feebly attempted to correct the disastrously charted course.


So what was wrong with Killjoys, to detail the broad and unclear term “everything”? Let’s see:

Not Much Showing And Only Slightly More Telling

The finale showed us that Killjoys had a political intrigue going on, despite the entire season pretty much ignoring the issue. Despite the Golden Rule of Screenwriting being “show, don’t tell”, Killjoys weren’t showing and they were barely telling. Suddenly, halfway through the season, some Leithian redneck blurted that he was pissed off about the Company handing away land on Leith to Westerlyns who managed to survive for seven generations on the ghetto moon and didn’t drink themselves under the table, despite having the goddamn most fabulous bartender around. Then, from that, there was some more telling, finished with some showing that came out as nonsensical due to lack of context and proper build-up.


The Company itself wasn’t really shown to be an inhuman oppressive moloch either. There was no kitten eating, no puppy kicking, not even as much as poodle poking. Old Man Hills, the captain of the company security on Westerley, arrested backroom doctor Pawter Simms by bursting in with a bunch of heavily armed goons, listed a litany of supposedly serious charges, and come the next episode, had Simms released. Which would make sense if the writers didn’t contradict themselves in the finale.

And finally, Khlyen. Dutch’s enigmatic evil mentor, played by the former ponytailed, Hawaiian-shirt-clad mountie-turned-private-dick Rob Stewart, waltzes in and out for presumably no reason throughout pretty much all episodes, at least casting his sinister shadow over our Angsty Space Princess if not appearing in person. In the end, he turns out to be the show’s raison d’etre, having miraculously set everything to go his way, his feeble attempts at making Angsty Space Princess follow in his footsteps seemingly foiled yet succeeding at having her do exactly as Khlyen predicted. He has her kill some random schmuck, he steals the Foxdie Bomb from her in order to reshuffle the Nine Families, he’s a mythical Level Six Killjoy... and we have no clue whatsoever about what all that means.


Protagonists Make The Things Go Around

After several episodes, one conclusion jumps at you: without the protagonists’ involvement, seemingly nothing happens in the entire planetary system. No funny background events, no exposition tidbits in the local media (including bar gossip), no build-up to things. For half a season, the bad guys spout “something vague is coming” at the protagonists, without anything to follow. Rogue Killjoy Joe, Khlyen, Amanda Fapping’s Doctor Jaeger (more about her in a bit), some random schmuck on a stretcher, Khlyen again, they all could say “season finale is coming” because that’s exactly what they meant.


The political intrigue mentioned above seems to be stuck motionless until one of our protagonists approaches it. Surrogate mothers for Qreshi nobles kindly wait with popping a babby out until Dutch lands them on her employer’s lawn, Leithian rednecks bitch to Dutch about seventh-generation Westerlyns taking their land, Westerlyn criminals brag to John about having a shitload of counterfeit seventh-generation Westerlyn birth certificates on them, Elvis the Masochist Monk warns D’avin about a coming revolution... OK, we get it, the three protagonists are important. There are much more subtle ways to tell audience that.

Worse yet, Dutch’s “mysterious badass” angle is hamfisted enough to make you take the Angsty Space Princess for a Mary Sue. She’s barely thirty and already a top-rated bounty hunter, she kicks ass, then dresses pretty and wraps a Leithian Southern Gentleman around her finger, then discovers the secret of a derelict science vessel, then saves herself and D’avin by jumping out of the airlock to reach Lucy, then dresses pretty and takes D’avin to a nightclub located on a space station, then saves D’avin from the clutches of evil Amanda Fapping. Between those, she kicks ass. She also reveals (mostly by telling, some stuff by showing) that she’s a space princess (by marriage), that she was trained to be an assassin from an early age, but she didn’t like it, so she escaped... only she didn’t, because her evil mentor out-badassed her.


D’avin’s story arc is just as naive. He’s amnesiac, someone wants to kill him, but his brother recognizes him and takes the kill warrant under Dutch’s name in order to save him. Then, by means mostly unknown, the Angsty Space Princess manages to save him for good, trading a kill warrant for him for another one, that - go figure - D’avin cashes in via a surprise headshot. Also, he looks kinda, sorta like the default appearance of Commander Shepard from Mass Effect games, so let’s call him Commander Knockoff. Of course, Commander Knockoff’s amnesia has been engineered by the mad scientist Dr Jaeger, but since she fucked it up, Knockoff remembers her name and attempts to track her down. Then it turns out the amnesia was supposed to cover another dirty deed of Dr Jaeger, namely making Commander Knockoff kill HIS SKWAAAAAAAD!, as he roars in pain while interrogated by a crazy AI on a derelict science vessel. If that wasn’t enough, Dr Jaeger decides to use it again, gaining the enmity of Angsty Space Princess, who supposedly wipes her memory, while leaving Commander Knockoff’s murder-switch in his head, and in serviceable condition at that. At least the show doesn’t tell us otherwise.

And finally, Johnny The Idiot Boy. If you need something stupid done for the sake of plot, call John Jaqobis!


Moons, Politics And Speaking In Tongues

Killjoys has, supposedly, according to fans, a rich universe. That consists of a planet and two moons, population of each one wearing a hat, a Company that is supposed to be your bog standard Evil Corp. (not to be confused with the one from Mr Robot) and Rock Against Communism (or Rack for short) - a bunch of fancy bounty hunters that exists only for Company to have supposedly neutral enforcers, despite all their lofty slogans about taking no sides.


The planet, Qresh, is inhabited by vain, backstabbing rich bastards who build big fancy houses on the scraps of land not yet sunk by climate change and sit on the Company board of directors. How do we call this act? The Aristocrats! There are nine aristocratic families on Qresh, of which five are name-dropped (two of them only in the finale), and we aren’t told how Angsty Space Princess, nee Yalena Yardin, is related to any of them.

The nice moon, Leith, is home to Qreshi rejects and redneck farmers. We meet both, the former have fancy houses and own slaves (de facto, because like today, they’re “contracted employees” de jure, their “contracts” involving bombs shoved into their ears - which the local law oddly doesn’t consider an abusive clause), the latter cook meth (called “jakk”, of all things) in the woods and form militias to fight the imaginary immigrant threat that, as we learn in the finale, will never come to take “der jerbs, an’ land, an’ stuff”. Leith also houses the vaguely Middle-Eastern Bazaar where an old bag named Bellush hands out jobs to our Terrible Trio. Unless they use an app on their mobile phones or the Rack rents an entire bar on Westerley to brief a larger group.


The shitty moon, Westerley, is supposedly an industrial dump. It’s inhabited by crazy masochist monks, hobos, thugs, whores and the most goddamn fabulous bartender in the entire star system, Pree. It also has its own Company security, who are the Oppressive Jackbooted Totalitarian Goons Who Don’t Do Anything. Apart from that, out in the supposedly lethally toxic badlands (that our Terrible Trio scale in a simple desert buggy without even a shemagh or a pair of goggles to protect them from dust, to say nothing of gas masks or hazmat suits), there’s a secret hidden monastery for Mothers Surrogate For The Most Noble Qreshi Houses. It’s hidden behind a holographic mountain that the supposed raiders from the supposedly toxic badlands never tried to scale. As for the weather, there are acid rainstorms when the plot demands it.

The Nine Families had the bright idea to promise the inhabitants of Westerley that in case they don’t murder each other for seven generations, they can get a plot of land on Leith. Then, in a particularly petty attempt at a cop-out (since it turned out that the Westerlyns had better ideas than murdering each other and being a bunch of angry drunks with mental disorders - I don’t know, I assume they sort their trash and recycle it), the Nine Families stage a terrorist attack on Leith, use the Foxdie Bomb (a MacGuffin from one of the episodes) to wipe the representatives who were against giving land to the Westerlyns, and bomb the shit out of Westerley, including their own personnel on the ground. In that particular operation, they enlist the help of mythical Level Six Killjoys, who presumably are their genetically-modified Gestapo.


There’s also a third moon, Arkyn, that is supposedly still uninhabitable because the Company fucked something up during terraforming. Of course, episode nine throws that bullshit out of the window, as the opening montage of earlier episode not only punches you in the face about the existence of Level Six Killjoys, but also drops more than enough hints that Arkyn isn’t as uninhabitable as you’d think. The same episode also digs up a random bit of rambling from episode five, “Red-17”, that we know nothing about aside from it being the obsession of a crazy AI from a derelict science vessel, and ends on a long shot of Arkyn’s bleached surface.

And then it turns out in the closing of the finale that Arkyn is indeed habitable, and Red-17 is the name of the secret laboratory that makes ordinary Killjoys into the evil Level Six Hundred And Sixty Six Genetically Modified Gestapo Killjoys. Commander Knockoff becoming its latest victim chosen over the resident jerk Fancy Lee, who we see on the next gurney over with a huge metal spike between the eyes.


Also, all the computers have their UIs in random geometric emojibake instead of plain English. The reason for this is given only in the end of season finale, when people start speaking in tongues after a secondary character mentions off-handedly “all dialects of the Quad” (the Quad being the planetary system). Pree starts spouting some odd Indian-sounding gibberish, and Old Man Hills, the grizzled captain of Westerley’s Company security, growls out what I assume is cussing out the Company before a bomb drops on the bar, spills his drink and kills him.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Season One ended with Angsty Space Princess and Johnny the Idiot Boy having a cargo bay full of justifiably pissed off hobos and the Most Goddamn Fabulous Bartender hugging two bottles of expensive local booze, Commander Knockoff being turned into a Level Six GMOstapo, Westerley bombed to shit and the family Kendry becoming the target of a particularly gruesome vendetta. This sort of lame-ass, cliffhangery non-resolution after an entire badly written season means one thing: Killjoys are exactly what their title claims, a dull, joyless slog through a contrived, napkin-scribbled plot with a cast of flat characters based on overused cliches. Syfy, seriously, don’t bother with Season Two, nobody’s watching this shit anymore.

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